After losing to the Cowboys and Bills to open the season, if the Giants really wanted to have any chance at the postseason this season (even though they never really had a chance), they would have had to beat the Vikings on Sunday or pull off the most improbably of upsets (given their defense) over the Patriots on Thursday. The Giants scored 10 points and let Kirk Cousins of all quarterbacks do whatever he wanted against them in an 18-point loss Sunday, and now they will play the Patriots on the road in a short week without Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard or Evan Engram. Eli Manning should feel lucky to be on the sideline for this one.
The Giants’ only goal this season is back to what it was prior to the season, and what it’s really been all along outside of the one calendar-week window where back-to-back wins gave the team and its fans the slightest idea of a miracle season ending with a postseason berth. That goal is to get Daniel Jones experience and improve the defense. The first part of the goal is going well, the second part, not so well. The defense is going to have its work cut out for them on Thursday Night Football against Tom Brady and the undefeated Patriots, and if the Giants have so far let Dak Prescott, Josh Allen, Jamies Winston and Cousins put up video game-like numbers against them in the first half alone, what is Brady going to do against them?
I’m happy the Giants are playing on an off day for the Yankees, but I’m not happy it’s this game that’s being played.
(Home team in caps)
NEW ENGLAND -17 over New York Giants
The Giants will be without their all-world running back, No. 1 wide receiver and possibly the league’s top tight end. I have no idea how they’re going to score points to cover against this Patriots team and Patriots defense, which looks like the Patriots’ defense from the early years of the Brady era. Unlike some of the Patriots’ other opponents, the Giants don’t have a defense capable of scoring a touchdown for a backdoor cover, and after putting up only 10 points at home against a lesser opponent in the Vikings, scoring 10 on Thursday would be a lot.
Carolina -2.5 over TAMPA BAY (in London)
Finally, some Sunday morning football, so if I wake up hungover at 7 a.m. on Sunday I will have something to watch when I can’t fall back asleep. The Panthers are 4-0 when Kyle Allen starts since his first start last season, and since that start, the Panthers are 0-9 when Cam Newton starts. There shouldn’t even be a quarterback controversy for the Panthers. Allen is better.
BALTIMORE -11 over Cincinnati
The Bengals are 0-5 and tied with the Redskins for the worst record in the league. I don’t expect either to finish as the worst team in the league (that honor goes to the Dolphins), but now that the Bengals are 0-5, they have to be thinking about what their future could look like with Tua Tagovailoa as their quarterback. That has to scares the Dolphins and their fans.
CLEVELAND +1.5 over Seattle
The Browns suck. People were actually picking them to win the AFC and go to the Super Bowl because … I have no idea? The idea the Browns were going to be one of the top teams in the league because Baker Mayfield is now in his second year or because they traded for Odell Beckham was preposterous. The Browns have now suffered two losses of at least 28 points in the first five weeks of the season, and now have Seattle at home before their bye, and then road games at New England and Denver. The Browns might be improved from the Browns we have come to know, but they’re an eight-win team at best.
New Orleans +1 over JACKSONVILLE
The Saints are 3-0 when Teddy Bridgewater starts. I wonder how Vikings fans feel about that. Actually, I know since my wife is a Vikings fan and she isn’t happy about it. Jets fans can’t be happy either after they traded away Bridgewater for nothing to the Saints prior to last season and then could have used him to stay afloat over the last four weeks this season. Instead, he’s helping the Saints stay afloat until Drew Brees can come back, and he’s building himself up for a nice payday and a starting job somewhere in 2020.
KANSAS CITY -4.5 over Houston
I watched the Colts lose to the Raiders two weeks ago and everything I thought I knew about this Colts team was erased. But then the Colts went out on Sunday Night Football this past week and won on the road in Kansas City, where no visiting team wins, further proving each week of the NFL season needs to be evaluated as a one-week season. Nothing about this sport and the result make sense and it’s absolutely ridiculous that I or anyone wager money on it. It’s just so fun not to.
Washington -3.5 over MIAMI
If FOX isn’t calling this the Tua Bowl on Sunday then what’s the point of anything? The two worst teams in the league going head-to-head and one will come out with a win they certainly don’t want. I think it’s going to be the Redskins because I think the Dolphins have made it more than clear they will lose at all costs to get the No. 1 pick. With the Redskins and Bengals at 0-5, the Dolphins need to make sure they lose this game or their entire rebuilding plan will be ruined. The biggest Redskins fan in the world on Sunday will be Tagovailoa.
MINNESOTA -3 over Philadelphia
This game was the hardest one for me to pick because as someone who bought the Sunday Ticket solely for Vikings games, I have seen every game in its entirety of the Cousins era. The Vikings are good because of their defense, but they’re not great because of Cousins. But the Eagles are just as average as the Vikings, and because of that, I have to take the home team.
ARIZONA +2.5 over Atlanta
Once an owner starts commenting on the status of the team’s head coach to the media, that head coach is done. That’s exactly what’s happening in Atlanta. It’s a move that’s way overdue, and a move that should have been made the second the Super Bowl collapse happened, but it’s a move that’s coming before the start of next season.
LOS ANGELES RAMS -3.5 over San Francisco
If you had to bet on Greg Zuerlein to successfully kick a 44-yard field-goal attempt, you would bet for him every time. That’s the situation I was in in the Rams-Seahawks game last week when the Rams had a chance to win the game if Zuerlein convered the 44-yard attempt as time expired. He didn’t and the Rams lost and my pick lost and my bank account lost. That loss was the Rams’ second straight, something I didn’t think was possible for this team in this window. A third straight loss? No way.
Tennessee +2.5 over DENVER
The Broncos surprised everyone with a win on the road against the Chargers. The Chargers losing one of their easier games at home to a Broncos team, which looked dysfunctional on offense for the first four games of the season shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone since that’s the exact kind of game the Chargers always lose. Meanwhile, the Titans, who I wrongly predicted to build off their 8-8 finish last season, lost a 14-7 game in Buffalo after their eventually-released kicker missed all for field-goal attempts. For two teams with good defenses who have trouble moving the ball on offense, the over/under on this barnburner should be 20.
NEW YORK JETS +7.5 over Dallas
The good news for the Jets is their quarterback is back. The bad news for the Jets is it will take a miracle for them to save their season. If 10 wins gets the Jets a playoff berth, they would have to go 10-2 the rest of the way. Their next three games are against Dallas, New England and Jacksonville, which means they could be eliminated from going 10-2 in the next three weeks. The Jets finally had a roster capable of reaching the playoffs and a schedule that would allow them an easy path to do so, and it just didn’t work out, the way things never work out for the Jets.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS -6.5 over Pittsburgh
The Chargers are 2-3 this season. Their two wins were a home overtime win over Indianapolis in Week 1 and a win at Miami in Week 4. Their three losses have been to Detroit, Houston and Denver, and in those three games, they have scored 10, 20 and 13 points, for an average of 14.3 points per game. What happened to the Chargers team that looked like a Super Bowl contender nine months ago and was able to put up points with ease? The Chargers’ schedule is about to get extremely difficult with two timezone-changing trips and Green Bay and Kansas City before their Week 12 bye. If the Chargers can’t win this game, and win big, against a Pittsburgh team on their third-string quarterback, then call it a season and we’ll see the Chargers again next September.
GREEN BAY -4 over Detroit
Unless you’re a Lions fan, you would have to be crazy to ever bet on Lions game, for or against them. If you bet for them, they will screw you. If you bet against them, they will screw you. There’s no knowing what type of effort you will get from Lions and what kind of comeback they will produce or what kind of late-game meltdown they will endure. The safest thing to do is to pick against them.
Last week: 7-7-1